Mata Dharam Dasi

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Mataji, Banaras, 1970s.
Mata Dharam Dasi & Family.

From The Flower Raj Encyclopaedia

Mata Dharam Dasi (aka Mataji, born India, c1926[1] - died India, 10th August 1974).



Mataji (Mata Dharam Dasi / Mata Dharma Dasi) was an aghori sadhuni (sadhvi / female sadhu) who lived on Manikarnika Ghat, Banaras (the main burning ghat/cremation ground on the river Ganga at Varanasi).

There she met Western travellers in 1966 and had a big influence on some of them up until her death, 10th August 1974, at the age of 55.

It is believed she was to be married off at a young age to an older man chosen by her family; she ran away from home before the marriage & in due course became a sadhuni.

She had at least one daughter and one grandchild. More info needed.


Blog Posts

  • Nothing yet. Need story/stories with photos.


  • Dave Zero wrote
"I traveled with Mataji (just the two of us) for over a year. We were never apart, as Mataji would say "moma man (her) and this man (me) sleep same, same for one year." This is why I believe my experience with her is unique. Our journey took us to or through Goa, Ujain, Kajuraho, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Calcutta, Almora, Kullu Valley, Bombay, Delhi and of course Benares. Enough had happened to occupy several lifetimes in that year which began in October 1969 through early 1971. It would make a wonderful book.
I don't believe the age figure is correct. She told me she was "married" to the father of Uma at 14. Uma's age was documented. It put Mataji around 45 in 1971.
I feel supremely lucky to have known Mataji so well and would love to share the experience. But where do I begin?
My time with a true Kali Goddess should be known and enjoyed.
  • Nico Morrison wrote
"Winter 1966 and I was led to the river by friends after an all-night session of the Banaras Music Conference. We had listened to the glorious slow churn of Bhairavi raga as light dawned over the Ganga. The next thing I knew we were at Manikarnika Ghat and a group of sadhus were complaining (but safely, under their breath) as a very small and very noisy woman screamed at them in Bhojpuri Hindi. That was Mataji."
"Over the next couple of years I spent a lot of time with Mataji, often also in the company of Jasper Newsome & other travellers who accreted around her; she organised the rental of a houseboat, moored first at the Burning Ghat of Manikarnika & when the Sadhus objected, moved the boat down to Godolia".
"One of my best experiences with Mataji was when she made her yearly trip to Jamshedpur, the great city that the industrialist Jamshedji Tata hacked out of the virgin Bihar jungle in 1911 & turned into the largest steel-making city in India".
"Mataji had many Indian devotees in Jamshedpur & one of them was a senior Police Inspector, who was able to ensure that she had a prime position on the Maidan, complete with awnings, cushions & strategically placed where the returning steel-workers walked past, going home from work".
"A chillum in praise of Shiva, after work, in the company of a holy lady".


  1. Email from Dave Zero (03/08/2011) correcting the original estimate of 1920.

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